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A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-makers towards the Environment by Stephen Turner

A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-makers towards the Environment

By Stephen Turner


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Accute global awareness of environmental degradation seems at last to have created a consensus that environmental obligations should be imposed on decision-makers, whether state or non-state actors. However, although substantive environmental rights have been developed to a limited degree, there is as yet no international treaty or agreement that provides a globally accepted substantive human right to a good or clean and healthy environment.

This impressive book proposes such a right. In unprecedented depth, the author probes the legal obligations of decision-makers within states, companies, multilateral development banks and the World Trade Organization and develops a sound substantive human right that creates duties, both nationally and internationally, by which all decision-makers are legally bound to follow specific rules and procedures that would prevent or limit environmental degradation stemming from their decisions.

Among the major issues dealt with in the course of the presentation are the following:

  • determination of an equitable form of compensation where less environmentally-degrading alternatives are not viable;
  • anthropocentric approach vs. intrinsic rights for all ecosystems and natural systems; problems of fixing qualitative standards;
  • problems arising from the differing economic capacities of states;
  • the extent to which state constitutional provisions relating to the environment can direct and constrain legislators and policymakers;
  • effectiveness of responses to pressure upon multinational enterprises to take the environment into consideration in their decision-making processes;
  • intergenerational equity;
  • protection of indigenous and vulnerable communities; and
  • public participation in the environmental impact assessment process.

The annex provides the author’s draft accord between states for the development and realization of a substantive environmental right.

This is the first book to formulate a full-fledged international legal right ensuring that all peoples could enjoy an environment, in which all ecosystems and natural systems are protected, and to demonstrate how such a right could be instituted and work in practice. As such it not only represents a major contribution to our knowledge and significantly enhances our understanding of the issues examined, but also brilliantly exposes the obstacles blocking environmental progress and powerfully clarifies the way ahead. It will be of immeasurable value to anyone committed to turning back the tide of environmental degradation.

Last Updated 12/18/2008
Update Frequency As Needed
Product Line Kluwer Law International
ISBN 9789041128157
SKU 10058825-0001
Table of Contents

Foreword. Preface. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations. 1. Introduction. 2. The Current Status of the Development of Environmental Rights at National and International Levels. 3. The Debate Relating to the Potential Development of a Substantive Environmental Right and the Proposed Design of such a Right. 4. A Substantive Environmental Right and the State Actor. 5. Companies and Multinational Enterprises. 6. Multilateral Development Banks. 7. The World Trade Organization. 8. Conclusion. Appendix: Draft Accord between States for the Development and Realization of a Substantive Environmental Right. Bibliography. Table of International Instruments. Table of International Cases. Table of National Laws. Table of National Cases.